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Secretary Rice Goes To Asia: Part Three.


Wrapping up our Three-Part Series (part 1, part 2) on Secretary of State Rice's trip though Asia, WILLisms.com now turns to an examination of how the Japan, South Korea, China segment of the journey went.


While in Japan, Secretary Rice dealt with beef importation issues, and the issue of North Korea, asserting American support for the 6-party talks, but she also turned the spotlight on Japan's tranformation since World War II into a full and free democracy.

At Sophia University, Secretary Rice iterated American unambiguous support for a permanent seat for Japan on the United Nations Security Council, which was an interesting point made in the wake of Kofi Annan's announced UN reforms. She also remarked:

President Bush often talks about how he feels when he sits across the table from Prime Minister Koizumi. I have heard him tell the story from Des Moines, Iowa, to Miami, Florida, to Portland, Oregon, and across the United States during the campaign. He talks of the difficult choices and sacrifices that were made after World War II, so that Japan could emerge not just strong and stable, but democratic and free. He talks about what it means to now sit across from not just an ally, but a democratic ally in Japan. He talks about the strength that he gains from working with a democratic leader like the Prime Minister and the people of Japan to solve the world's continuing problems, whether on the North Korean peninsula or in Iraq or in Afghanistan, or fighting disease and poverty. And he talks about the inspiration that he draws from it.

Because one day, an American President and a Japanese Prime Minister will sit across from democratic allies in Iraq and Afghanistan and Palestine. And they, too, will chart a better future for our children and for the children of the world. They will do so on the basis of democratic values and they will do so because there is no stronger friendship than that that is born of a common commitment to democratic values, to liberty and to freedom.

It is inspiring to think about young Marine Sam Franklin (grandfather, or "Pop") fighting across the Pacific Ocean against the Japanese six decades ago, nearly giving his life on the bloody island of Saipan. Within a millisecond of history, the United States and Japan went from mortal enemies to two of the closest freedom-loving allies on the planet, even increasingly sharing cultural ties, which was even more unthinkable just a few decades ago.


The easy way out is to become cynical about the mission in Iraq, but there is very little reason why Iraq should not become prosperous and free just like Japan over the next generation if the United States remains committed to the vision.


While in South Korea, one interesting aspect of the trip was Rice's conversation with internet journalists. In one exchange, she explained her "outpost of tyranny" remark, assuaging war fears, noting that the U.S. as a rule is,

...going to speak up for people who live without freedom. It is who we are. And the President has made very clear that he believes that freedom is a universal value. Look at what has happened here in South Korea. Look at what you're able to say and what you're able to do. That's the essence of human dignity, is to be able to say what you think, to worship as you please, to educate your children, girls and boys. This is the essence of human dignity. No one should be denied that.

And so, the United States is never going to fail to speak out when people are held without those fundamental rights. And that is a worldwide principle for the United States.

But that has nothing to do with the issue of whether or not we use military force in the case of North Korea. The United States has been... the largest food donor for a long time. I think now maybe we are the second largest food donor for the North Korean people, because we care about the plight of the North Korean people. But we have absolutely no intention or desire to attack North Korea.


While in China, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the trip was Secretary Rice's visit to a Beijing church, a symbolic way of expressing solidarity with those who desire freedom, including freedom of religion in a country rated "not free" by Freedom House:

...the United States hopes that there will be improved relations in religious freedom with the Catholic Church, with the Dalai Lama’s representatives, so that Tibetans can freely pursue their cultural interests. We also talked a good deal about the need for China to think about a more open political system that will match its economic openness and allow for the full creativity of the Chinese people.

I did indeed go to church last night and it was indeed a church that was legal. I don’t think there was any doubt about the believers who were there and about their commitment to their religion. It was an extraordinary experience for me. It was a quite moving experience. But it underscored for me that people must have an opportunity to exercise their religious beliefs, to exercise their religious traditions, to do so in an atmosphere that is free of intimidation, that in fact allows for the expansion of religion and communities of believers. I made that point to my counterpart, Mr. Li, and to others, and I do hope that there is an understanding that religious communities are not a threat to transitioning societies; in fact, they are very often in societies that are changing a force for good, for stability and for compassion in societies that are undergoing rapid change.

Ross Terrill argues in The Weekly Standard that it is time for some democratic noise in Asia:

A major liberalization--even short of democracy--in China would rock the shabby dictatorships in Pyongyang and Rangoon. A tide of democracy in all three would do more for peace, human rights, and, yes, stability in East Asia than a decade of "six country talks" or a hundred sessions of the Asian Regional Forum of ASEAN....

Liberal foreign policy gurus are terrified that President Bush may "make Beijing angry" or "displease China" if he talks of democracy and freedom. In one sense there is no way Washington can fully please Beijing. The Communist regime's anger at hegemonists (that's us) is a theology. America is needed as an adversary to shore up the legitimacy of a Communist party-state that came to power by the gun and has lost faith in Marxism....

The next China drama will unfold not in its foreign relations but at home, as huge internal migrations, the Internet, a middle-class push for property rights, imperial tensions, and life in the World Trade Organization strip bare the illogic of "market Leninism." Traveling one road in economics and a different one in politics does not make for a smooth ride or a settled destination. How that schizophrenia is resolved will clarify the heft and worth of China's world role.

In each of the Asian countries, Rice and the leaders of foreign countries expressed solidarity on the idea of a non-nuclear North Korea. Rice also called for the resumption of the 6-party-talks, because, after all, China holds enormous sway over Pyongyang.

All in all, Secretary Rice talked tough when necessary, but charmed the pants off of the Asians. Overall, a successful trip.

We look forward to covering Secretary Rice's travels more in the coming weeks, months, and years, so stay tuned to WILLisms.com for more. In fact, tune in tomorrow for a comparison between Secretaries Powell and Rice.

Posted by Will Franklin · 22 March 2005 03:34 PM


Way to go Will! Pop would be so proud of you and what you stand for... I know I am! That is such a cute picture of Condoleeza with the Sumo guy.

Posted by: Mom at March 22, 2005 04:07 PM